I’m sitting here struggling. Struggling on how to react to what I just read. Struggling on what to write. The easiest thing to do is vilify the two boys who were just convicted of rape. Call them “monsters”. Say things like “They should go to “big boy” prison, that’ll teach’em!” The only thing is, I disagree.
Most people will read the headlines. They’ll see the words “rape”, “nudity”, “guilty”, “teens” and “drunk”. Eventually, this story will fade. You’ll move on with your lives and this will be a distant memory. The problem is the story doesn’t end there. The story continues. It continues with the boys going to juvenile detention. From there, hopefully they will participate in sex offender treatment. This is where the real story is. The work the case managers, therapist, counselors, mentors, and staff put in. The work to try and help change these two teens. Helping the two boys find out where things went wrong. How to change their thinking, their behaviors, and their situation. What it means to have victim empathy and how their offense has far reach effects on not just their victim but throughout their families, and their community. What you won’t read on cnn, foxnews, or yahoo are the one on one sessions that will take place attempting to help these boys change their lives or the countless hours designing an effective treatment plans. If you don’t know, I’m a case manager. I work with juvenile male sex offenders. I read the same news articles you did but I saw different words. I saw “victim of abuse”, “broken homes”, “boys”, “treatment”, and “help”. I’ve read too many court documents, psychological evaluations and family histories to believe that there isn’t more to the back stories of these two boys. These two boys need help. If they don’t get the help they need, they will eventually get out and either re-offend or as difficult as it is to imagine, do worse things. What will the boys learn if they go to “big boy” prison? They won’t learn is accountability, responsibility, or respect for females. What they’ll learn is how to do anything and everything to survive being a boy in a prison full of adults.
Know this, I am in no way condoning what these two boys did. Should they be punished? Should they be held accountable? Yes and yes. Should they get the help they need? Yes. Are these boys still human beings? Yes.